2020 has been a year of incredible disruption. As the country and rest of the world deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 Pandemic, small businesses struggle to stay viable, retain employees and cover operating expenses. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) was implemented to supply much needed economic relief.
The Payment Protection Program (PPP) portion of the CARES Act offered small business owners a means to meet their financial obligations. However, there are inherent difficulties involved. Business owners found supplying all the appropriate documentation and certificates to be a complicated process while financial institutions struggled with constant updates, unclear guidance and inadequate resources.
Regardless of whether ill intent was involved, protected classes did not consistently receive the aid they needed. This became apparent in May when a Unidos US survey1 was released. Of the Black and Latino small businesses requesting relief, over half asked for less than $20,000 to cover employment and operating expenses. Of those, 12% received the funding they requested and 41% received no help at all. 21% were still waiting to hear if they qualified. Examiners and regulators will be looking closely to make sure your institution lives up to regulatory expectations.
Reporting continues as usual.
Despite the difficulties, PPP lending will be considered when evaluating CRA and Fair Lending. PPP loans can be eligible for CRA credit if you know what you’re looking for, but that can be difficult to do.
Because PPP rolled out so quickly and the volume of requests was so large, many financial institutions were required to reallocate untrained resources to loan processing as a result. And with the August 8, 2020 extension, loan processing is still eating up valuable time and resources. Due to unfamiliarity with the documentation and application process, many of the reallocated personnel may not be aware of Fair Lending and CRA requirements and how it affects their financial institution. This has the potential to make it even more difficult to meet the demands of CRA and Fair Lending expectations.
The best way to protect your institution from compliance risk remains the same as it was before COVID-19 became our new normal.
Document. Test. Monitor. Train.
Clarify what has happened with your loan processes to this point and get down the details now. Why were loans that were denied dispositioned in the manner they were? What procedures may have changed and why? How were fraud attempts dealt with? Then get your story down, including how you intend to rectify any at-risk policies. Once noted, leverage that knowledge to make sure protected classes are truly protected during PPP loan processing and the loan forgiveness stage.
Correct anything that can be fixed now, document and explain oversights and the actions taken to fix them and train your loan personnel top to bottom. Then review procedures and follow up on your actions to ensure you’re moving in the right direction. Finally, keep your Compliance Management System (CMS) up to date and your team, including the Board, on the same page. This is often an overwhelming and time-consuming endeavor. You don’t have to face it alone.
Marquis – here when you need us.
Let Marquis become your compliance partner. We offer a two-prong solution to help you get the CRA credit you deserve and tell your compliance story successfully.
CenTrax NEXT, our proprietary compliance system created exclusively for the financial industry, enables you to assemble, analyze and act on your data. This is not a software solution released in response to the current situation. CenTrax NEXT is a proven compliance reporting solution that will continue to deliver value well past COVID-19 and its fallout.
We also offer guidance with Marquis Professional Services. Our team of dedicated experts continues to stay current on the frequent updates, fluctuating requirements and possible reporting issues of PPP and all of their ramifications. Their job is to alleviate your stress, offering you the guidance you need to identify possible risk areas and develop your story.
Just as your financial institution stepped up to help your customers and members, Marquis is here to help you navigate the often-confusing demands and requirements when reporting your PPP loans for CRA and completing Fair Lending analysis. Please get in touch to find out more about CenTrax NEXT and Marquis Professional Services.